I’m getting very excited about my summer crops at the moment. I planted out the tomatoes today. The eggplants, capsicums and chillies are hardening off and I harvested some winter grown potatoes yesterday. All in all I have become absolutely obsessed with Solanaceae crops (sorry Daphne). It is a little easy though to come up with a Top 5 – Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Potato and in my case Tamarillo (although only if I group chillies and capsicums together as peppers). Instead in this post I take it one step further and give you my top variety for each of the above top 5.
Tomatoes – Rouge de Marmande
You can find Rouge de Marmande tomatoes in every nursery/plant retailer in Melbourne, even my local supermarket stocks them, for good reason though, they are a great variety. They taste great, are well suited to Melbourne’s climate, are generally very productive and are reasonably compact plants (all things being relevant they are tomatoes after all….). Rouge de Marmande plants grow to about 1-1.5 metres which means that if you have 2 metre stakes you’ll be fine. They produce a lovely slicing tomato that also makes great sauce – what more could you possibly want?
Eggplant – Bonica
I have to admit this was something of a close call between Bonica and Lebanese eggplants – the latter being a long skinny variety and Bonica being the more traditional oval type shape. Bonica though won the day because I usually find it to be more productive and I find I use the larger fruits in more recipes. Bonica grows well in Melbourne and the plants can get pretty big which means lots of yummy eggplants to eat.
Potatoes – Kipfler
Again this was something of a close call – I also rate Dutch Cream really highly amongst others but Kipfler won on a couple of counts. Firstly it crops comparatively quickly – about 3 months from sending up shoots to dying back. The second reason is that it just tastes so damn good! The Kipfler potatoes at the supermarket are flaccid and barely OK. Home grown ones are firm, fresh and delicious. Finally as they are a small salad potato they don’t require heaps of room for the tubers so you can grow them in anything from a medium sized pot to a garden bed and everything in between.
Chillies – Scotch Bonnet Chillies
I haven’t included a capsicum in my list because I simply haven’t found one in particular that stands out from the rest. I have been growing the same unknown variety for the last few years but unfortunately I’m not sure what variety it is and also it does have off years. So my pepper selection falls to chillies and this is the category I struggled with the most. In the end I went for Scotch Bonnet for a couple of reasons. The plants are relatively long-lived and get through Melbourne winters fairly happily (they do sometimes lose quite a lot of leaves (if not all) towards the end of winter/start of Spring but the foliage should start to reappear in mid Spring). They crop heavily and the fruits look pretty. Finally as they are medium/mild heat they are pretty versatile in terms of what you can do with them. They make good sambal oelek. They are delicious stuffed and they can be happily used in any recipe where you’d use chilli.
Actually I have absolutely no idea what variety my Tamarillo is. I saved the seed from a fruit given to me by a friend and she’d got it from one of her friends who had a tree but didn’t like the fruit. I do know the tree is in Geelong so perhaps I should call it Geelong Tamarillo. Regardless though it is a great fruit (presuming you like Tamarillos that is….).
For another (as yet unknown but bound to be fabulous) Top 5 head over to The New Good Life.